Archive for April 2012

“GO GREEN NOT NUKES” FOLLOW PH MODEL!

April 24, 2012

“GO GREEN NOT NUKES” FOLLOW PH MODEL!

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

That line comes from a retired PH journalist, Crispin Maslog, who urged Asian countries to go green rather than to force nuke energy for power generation. From the very own words of the noblesse environmentalist, Asian countries—the top models of emerging markets—should follow the ‘Philippine way’ of power generation via the RE or renewable energy sources plus minimal fossil fuel but without the nuke option.

I couldn’t find reason to disagree with Herr Environmentalist, even as renewable energy sources in PH, which include hydro power and geothermal, dominate the power generation sector. Fossil fuels such as diesel and coal are down to a manageable level of less than 30% of total sources, though it is possible that coal-fired plants could still go up a bit.

What is clear is that RE has a clear dominance as it eats up over nearly 70% of power generation, and it is still moving up the scale as it replaces those occupied by diesel production plants that are getting mothballed by the year. To back this up, the policy environment for RE has been clearly built up in granite fashion across two (2) decades of backbreaking debates and legislation, thus rendering PH a global model for RE policy.

However, I would want to make exception to nuclear power fusion technology which belongs squarely to RE. China is now perfecting a fusion plant which will be out in commercial quantities by 2016 at the earliest, and I’m all for this energy source. This can be combined with the other RE sources in PH for instance, thus assuring energy needs all the year round for many decades straight.

[Philippines, 16 April 2012]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/climate-change-and-energy/energy-policy/opinions/asia-pacific-analysis-go-green-not-nuclear-1.html
Asia-Pacific Analysis: Go green not nuclear
Crispin Maslog
29 March 2012 | EN
Crispin Maslog says the region should follow the Philippines’ lead and focus on renewable, not nuclear power.
A year after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, questions remain over the role of nuclear power in the developing world, including South-East Asia and the Pacific.
Nuclear power had a renaissance, driven by rapidly growing energy demands, and fading memories of high-profile disasters at Three Mile Island in the United States and Chernobyl, Ukraine.
But Fukushima triggered a re-think about the safety of nuclear power plants. South-East Asian countries, earlier inclined towards nuclear power (especially Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand), are now at the crossroads, quietly revisiting the arguments for and against nuclear plants.
Planning for power
The Philippines was the first country to build a nuclear reactor in South-East Asia — the Bataan Nuclear Plant, completed in 1985. But the US$2.3-billion Westinghouse light water reactor, which has the potential to generate 621 megawatts of power, was never used. Work on the facility stopped after a change of administration because of corruption and safety issues.
Before Fukushima, bills were introduced in the Philippine congress seeking either to restart the reactor, or to close the issue by allowing either conversion or permanent closure. These are now in limbo.
Vietnam seems sure, and has decided to push ahead with its plan for 14 nuclear plants by 2030. Vietnam has an ambitious nuclear energy plan to power 10 per cent of its electricity grid with nuclear energy within 20 years. Its first nuclear plant, Ninh Thuan, is to be built with support from a state-owned Russian energy company and completed by 2020.
But whether nuclear is the solution still needs answering for the rest of the region. Singapore is going ahead with a pre-feasibility study and Indonesia is discreetly proceeding with feasibility studies. Thailand and Malaysia have abandoned their nuclear plans.
Nuclear drawbacks
Economic growth, industrialisation, the escalating price of oil, safer reactor design, and global warming are compelling countries to seek alternatives to fossil fuels.
Opponents of nuclear technology underscore the disadvantages: the high cost of building, running and maintaining nuclear power plants; problems with disposing of radioactive wastes; and difficulties with ensuring environmental and human safety. And although the fuel costs of nuclear plants have been lower than fossil-fuel plants, the construction cost is three times higher.
The risk of accidents is a big concern — their social and economic costs can be huge and long-lasting. For example, Belarus has estimated its economic losses over 30 years due to the Chernobyl disaster at US$235 billion. And 5–7 per cent of government spending in Ukraine still goes to Chernobyl-related benefit programmes.
More recently, Japan has estimated that the Fukushima nuclear accident could cost US$250 billion, including compensation for the 180,000 people moved from the area.
Disposing of radioactive waste remains dangerous and decommissioning the plant when it has reached the end of its useful life is also costly. Plans for storing the very long-lived radioactive wastes in deep geological repositories remain just that — plans. So far no such repositories have been constructed in the region.
And most developing South-East Asian countries still do not have enough expertise to deal with nuclear power safely.
Go for green energy
Until nuclear power plants become cheaper and safer, South-East Asia and the Pacific should choose to support renewable sources of energy.
Renewable sources including water, wind, tidal and solar already provide 20 per cent of global electricity (if hydropower is included), and could supply 77 per cent by 2050.
At the 6th Asia Clean Energy Forum (ACEF) held in Manila in June 2011, Greenpeace suggested that renewable energy plants, particularly wind and solar power, grew in capacity faster than any other power plant technology since the 1990s. [1]
It cited the Philippines as an example for the region. The country aims to make itself the leading geothermal energy producer in the world, to double hydropower capacity and expand the contributions of biomass, solar, and ocean energy.
It is already a leader in the region in harnessing geothermal and hydroelectric energy. In February 2010,The Philippine Department of Energy signed 68 mini-hydroelectric, 5 geothermal, and 17 wind energy contracts amounting to US$1 billion. These projects will generate an estimated capacity of 2,007.5 megawatts.
And one of the largest business conglomerates in the Philippines, Ayala Corp., has a long-standing interest in the renewable energy sector.
How did The Philippines get here? The government got the ball rolling with its Renewable Energy Act in 2008. Funding agencies — like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank — followed with huge energy loans. And private business then started coming in. This may well be a model for other South-East Asian countries to follow.
Crispin Maslog is a Manila-based consultant for the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication. A former journalist, professor and environmental activist, he worked for the Press Foundation of Asia and the International Rice Research Institute.
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PROF. ERLE FRAYNE ARGONZA WEBSITE: http://erleargonza.com

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GETTING PHARMACEUTICALS TO WORLD’S POOR VIA NEW FUNDING MODELS

April 21, 2012

GETTING PHARMACEUTICALS TO WORLD’S POOR VIA NEW FUNDING MODELS

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Getting pharmaceuticals to the world’s poor is verily a tough task to do. Certain emerging markets such as those of Asia’s have mature and well developed pharmaceutical industries, yet too many poor folks can’t afford to pay for their own medical drug needs.

One opinion says new funding models may need be crafted to get such drugs to the world’s poor. This opinion is highly debatable, as the case has been shown in PH, India, and China that responded to the problem of access to drugs via generics drugs policy and the institutionalization of traditional & alternative medicine.

At any rate, let those who espouse the idea of new funding models proceed with the enactment of their concept. “New funding model” could at best be attractive to Big Business owners who operate Big Foundations that would fund those access challenges, and there we go again recycling the same old problem of oligarchism as barrier to people’s access to medicines.

[Philippines, 14 April 2012]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/health/access-to-medicine/opinions/use-new-funding-models-to-get-drugs-to-world-s-poor-.html
Use new funding models to get drugs to world’s poor
Daniele Dionisio
5 April 2012 | EN
Trade deals are threatening generic drugs — we need new ways to incentivise affordable drug development, says health expert Daniele Dionisio.
Just under three billion people live on less than US$2 per day, in resource-limited countries where key medicines protected by patents are unaffordable.
Free-trade deals, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, and governments adopting intellectual property (IP) policies that favour the brand pharmaceutical sector are also threatening the trade of legitimate generic medicines.
In addition, India’s obligations to the World Trade Organization (WTO) prevent local companies from making generics for medicines introduced since 2005. Despite the country’s recent decision forcing a drug manufacturer to license a generic cancer drug[1], these developments threaten the supply of generic medicines from India that serve as a lifeline to resource-limited countries.
To ensure long-term access to medicines, the WHO has called for operational models to finance research and development (R&D) for diseases of the poor. [2] But any one model will not be enough to ensure the availability of life-saving drugs.
Pooling resources
The WHO’s models include direct grants, equitable licensing, pooled funds, prizes and patent pools, collectively called ‘best fitting’ models. They also include ‘less well fitting’ models such as priority review vouchers and a health impact fund.
With direct grants, for example, small- and medium-sized companies in developing countries are given funds to develop a product to the stage where they can more easily find other funders to take it to later stages of development.
Equitable licensing aims to ensure that medicines arising from public funding are licensed to make them affordable to the poor. Pooled funds aim to provide, on a long-term basis, funding to research organisations from sources including taxes or bonds. And prizes are rewards for developing a product or for completing a step in the R&D process.
As part of these recommendations, the WHO strongly insists that patent pools are established, where a number of patents by differ¬ent owners are brought together and made available on a nonexclusive basis to generic companies.
The Medicines Patent Pool (or the Pool), is a major commitment to implementing this idea. Founded and financed by UNITAID and backed by the WHO, UNAIDS, the Global Fund, and the Group of 8, the Pool is focusing on cutting-edge antiretrovirals (ARVs) for HIV.
The Pool seeks to negotiate with patent holders for voluntary licences (VLs) on their ARV patents against the payment of royalties. Expected benefits include increased competition and affordable prices for generic ARVs licensed through the Pool. [3]
A need for universal buy-in
The Pool has signed two VLs with Gilead Sciences and the US National Institutes of Health, and is in talks with Boehringer-Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Roche, Sequoia Pharmaceuticals and ViiV Healthcare (a joint venture of GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer). Meanwhile, generic companies have begun to take licences from it.
However, Merck and Abbott are not currently in negotiation with the Pool. And in December 2011 Johnson & Johnson said it would not license patents of its breakthrough ARVs for use through the Pool.
This is concerning because the participation of these companies in the Pool is necessary for generic companies to deliver appropriate ARVs formulations.
And it serves as a caution that, despite its promises and successes, the Pool is unlikely to be a self-sufficient solution — and this applies equally to all other models for financing drug R&D.
Towards a transaction tax
A combination of two or more models will be needed to ensure that the outputs of R&D, innovation and access are available without restrictions. To achieve that goal, all models should complement current IP regimes and include partnerships, open source and needs-driven rather than market-driven rules.
Product development partnerships (PDPs) meet these requirements. They provide a framework for cooperation between the public sector (governments, academic and research institutions) and the private sector (companies, nongovernmental organisations and philanthropic organisations).
PDPs already established include partnerships between the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) and companies Sanofi Aventis and Farmanguinhos/Fiocruz — which have produced innovative antimalarial products.
Similarly, a partnership between DNDi and Merck aims to roll out medicines for leishmaniasis and Chagas disease, and the TB Alliance has teamed up with Johnson & Johnson to develop new tuberculosis drugs.
PDPs enable both industry and governments to do what they could not alone. And their sustainability would be enhanced if governments financed them more effectively.
The foundation of all viable models is sustainable financing mechanisms, and we must find innovative funding sources.
A financial transaction tax (FTT), which aims to support development and health needs, is now under international debate, and has been endorsed by the EU Commission. A 0.05-per cent tax on all financial market transactions could raise €209 billion (US$273 billion) a year in the EU alone and would be sufficient to finance development priorities in the region and internationally. [4]
The FTT should be introduced, enforced and implemented worldwide. It would be instrumental, alongside the models proposed by the WHO, to promoting R&D to develop medicines for diseases of the poor.
Daniele Dionisio is head of the research project Geopolitics, Public Health and Access to Medicines (GESPAM); a member of the European Parliament Working Group on Innovation, Access to Medicines and Poverty-Related Diseases; and an advisor for the Italian Society for Infectious and Tropical Diseases (SIMIT). He can be contacted at d.dionisio@tiscali.it
References
[1] Bayer loses drug ruling in India (The Wall Street Journal, 2012)

[2] Draft WHO HIV strategy 2011–2015 (WHO, 2011)
[3] WHO, UNICEF, UNAIDS. The Progress report 2011: Global HIV/AIDS response (WHO, 2011)
[4] MEPs adopt report on EU-wide financial transaction tax (Parliament Magazine, 2011)
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PROF. ERLE FRAYNE ARGONZA WEBSITE: http://erleargonza.com

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LOWERING HIV RISK FOR SEX WORKERS, ANYONE?

April 17, 2012

LOWERING HIV RISK FOR SEX WORKERS, ANYONE?
Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Is there any enthused soul out there who may have some bright ideas about strategies to lower HIV risk for sex workers?

A grim ripper of a research shows the very high levels of HIV risks on sex workers. This research was done across the continents, involving 100,000 female sex workers across 50 developing countries, cross-analyzing 102 previous studies for that matter. The results show a truly grim situation for the HIV/AIDS front, with the sex workers serving as a focused vector of the ailment.

Let’s all face the fact: AIDS/HIV will be with us for some time yet, so no matter what heroic efforts are being done to stave off the pandemic it will wreak havoc on all societies and populations for some time. Unless, of course, that the context will radically change into a global situation where HIV will die out naturally such as the Earth’s sustained immersion in the photonic belt of the galaxy.

Below is a discussion of the said cross-analytic studies.

[Philippines, 12 April 2012]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/health/hiv-aids/news/study-notes-strategies-to-lower-hiv-risk-for-sex-workers-.html
Study notes strategies to lower HIV risk for sex workers
Helen Mendes
4 April 2012 | EN
Female sex workers in low- and middle-income countries are nearly 14 times more likely to become infected with HIV than other women in these countries, according to a literature review by US scientists.
The review was carried out by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal (15 March).
The authors analysed 102 previous studies representing almost 100,000 female sex workers in 50 developing countries. They found that in Asia, sex workers were 29 per cent more likely to be infected than other women in the region. In Africa and Latin America, sex workers were 12 times more likely to be infected than other women – and India, the female sex worker community was at a massive 50-fold higher risk of HIV infection than the rest of the country’s female population.
India, along with Kenya and Brazil have, however, made some inroads into reducing infection levels among sex workers.
“We believe that these examples represent countries adopting necessary approaches,” said Stefan Baral, the study’s lead author.
Brazil’s National STD/AIDS Programme works closely with sex workers to prevent new HIV infections. As well as running campaigns to promote prevention, Brazil offers free antiretroviral treatment.
“Because of their vulnerability, sex workers are a priority group, and we have projects specifically for them,” Juny Kraiczyk of the Brazilian Ministry of Health told SciDev.Net.
“We act to strengthen sex workers’ networks” and this involves “programmes of peer education and prevention in prostitution areas,” he said, adding that such strategies had also helped reduce the stigma associated with the disease that would otherwise discourage women from coming forward for testing and treatment.
This need to destigmatise HIV infection led to Brazil turning down a US$40-million grant from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in 2005 because it included a clause condemning prostitution.
“We work under the principle of not criminalising prostitution. We see these people as vulnerable, and not to be blamed for their increased risk. There are [other] factors, such as discrimination and poverty, which result in higher vulnerability for them,” explained Kraiczyk.
The Lancet Infectious Diseases study found that in India, the country’s Avahan and Sonagachi programmes have successfully tackled a range of structural challenges, through community empowerment, campaigns to address stigma, and the targeting of high-risk sexual practices with prevention messages.
“The disproportionate burden of HIV among sex workers … emphasises the need to increase coverage by increasing scale of prevention programmes and decreasing barriers to access,” the study stated.
India is making the Avahan programme, which is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a national initiative.
“Avahan has shared its approaches, tools, methods and strategies with the government, and many aspects have been incorporated into the national programme,” Shelley Thakral, communications officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in India, told SciDev.Net.
Link to abstract
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X-RAY BENEFITS ON PLANT MICRO-NUTRIENT ANALYSIS

April 14, 2012

X-RAY BENEFITS ON PLANT MICRO-NUTRIENT ANALYSIS
Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Good afternoon from Manila!

Here’s a good news concerning XRay benefits on plant micro-nutrient analysis coming from Africa. Researchers in Rwanda are very particular about the potential benefits of XRay applications, so this development adds more points towards brightening the image of Rwanda as its old ethnic violence and purges must be expunged with good news.

Not only can XRay determine to the minutest details the micro-nutrient composition of plants, eg. mineral content of leaves, beans, fruits, etc. XRay application, as it was found out, could induce growth of plants as a whole, leading the increase in the micro-nutrients available in them.

The gladdening news is shown below.

[Philippines, 07 April 2012]
Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/health/nutrition/news/x-ray-technology-harnessed-to-grow-more-nutritious-crops.html
X-ray technology harnessed to grow more nutritious crops
Aimable Twahirwa
5 April 2012 | EN | ES
[KIGALI] Agricultural researchers in Rwanda have adapted a technology widely used in the mining sector to analyse the mineral content of food crops such as beans and maize, with a view to developing more nutritious crops.
The team, from the Rwandan Agricultural Board (RAB), say the idea was inspired by a study published in the journal Plant and Soil earlier this year (21 January), which noted the use of X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis to determine the mineral content of soil samples.
XRF analysis generates X-rays of different colours to indicate the presence, and concentration, of elements such as iron and zinc. It is quick to display results, and each sample costs just 15 US cents to analyse – compared to US$20 for other chemical analysis technologies.
In Rwanda, beans are regarded as a near-perfect food as they contain many important nutrients, and between 22 to 30 per cent of arable land across the country is currently used to grow them, according to the RAB.
The Rwandan team used XRF to analyse three varieties of bio-fortified beans – climbing, bush and snap beans. They analysed 15 samples in total, and found four were particularly rich in mineral nutrients such as iron and zinc, according to Augustine Musoni, a senior researcher at the RAB.
“This is a step forward in [reducing] malnutrition while improving the lives of smallholder farmers,” Musoni told SciDev.Net.
Iron deficiency in food crops can inhibit physical and mental development in children, and increase the risk of women dying in childbirth, Musoni added.
The Plant and Soil study was funded by HarvestPlus, which is part of the Agriculture for Improved Nutrition and Health programme of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
HarvestPlus has formed partnerships with research institutes in Bangladesh, Mexico and India to make further use of the technology in crops like rice and pearl millet. It has set up XRF facilities in these institutes and trained local scientists to use them..
The main purpose of the new technology according to Tiwirai Lister Katsvairo, the Rwanda country representative for HarvestPlus, is to deliver nutritious staple food crops to reduce “hidden hunger” — the lack of dietary vitamins and minerals, adding that more than half of Rwanda’s children under five, and a third of the female population, are anaemic.
Daphrose Gahakwa, deputy director-general of the RAB said that XRF technology would be a beneficial method of testing mineral content in seeds. The challenge in delivering this innovation, she said, was how to deliver those benefits to remote areas of the country.
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BIRDS’ FLU RETHOUGHT WITH SCIENTIFIC OPENNESS

April 12, 2012

BIRDS’ FLU RETHOUGHT WITH SCIENTIFIC OPENNESS
Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Birds flu struck the world as a pandemic just a few years back, creating fright night panic in some key cities over incoming overseas visitors that are afflicted with the ailment. Indonesia is among those countries hit hard in terms of transmission of the birds flu, and so the Indonesian case could be examined to rethink the health problem at hand.

What makes the birds flu hazard truly alarming is that over 80% of those afflicted die of the disease. It now seems that, on hindsight, the lack of scientific openness had inflated the destructive reach and impact of the bird flu pandemic.

There is over-consciousness about intellectual property piracy of course, which accounts for the behavior of self-constraint among research scientists. How far can that wall of secrecy be loosened up to effect a cross-border clamp down of the bird flu virus?

Below is an interesting reportage about the subject.

[Philippines, 03 April 2012]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/health/bird-flu/editorials/tackling-bird-flu-effectively-needs-scientific-openness-1.html
Tackling bird flu effectively needs scientific openness
David Dickson
2 March 2012
Efforts to limit publication of controversial bird flu research could end up doing more harm than good.
Last week, a 12-year-old boy in Indonesia died after becoming infected with the H5N1 bird flu virus. His death brought the global death toll to 347 since the disease was first reported among humans in 2005.
At first sight the figure does not look too alarming compared to the many millions that die from other infectious diseases. And although the virus is usually fatal — up to 80 per cent of those infected die from it — the overall incidence of human infection remains relatively low.
This is because most people only get infected through contact with infected poultry. But what if the virus could spread between humans?
This spectre has now been raised by two teams of scientists, working at a medical centre in the Netherlands and the University of Wisconsin in the United States, respectively. Each team genetically altered the virus into a form that can pass between ferrets through the air — implying that a similar strain could evolve (or be created) that could spread between humans.
The consequences could be so disastrous that last year, a US body set up in 2005 to look at the potential biosecurity risks of laboratory-created organisms recommended that papers on the work submitted to the world’s two leading scientific journals, Science and Nature, should not be published in full.
The argument of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) was that the information could be used by terrorist groups or individuals to produce a powerful biological weapon that could spark a deadly epidemic if released into the human population.
Risks of restriction
There is a strong logic to this argument. Withholding the technical details of the steps required to produce a deadly virus would certainly make it considerably more difficult for anyone to copy the process.
And some have advocated going even further to curtail access to such information with calls for a ban on all research that could lead to new, potentially lethal viruses. Their argument is that the threat such viruses would pose if they escaped from the laboratory is so great that nothing justifies the risk of even carrying out research for them.
But both arguments have flaws. Those seeking publication of the information in heavily edited form risk denying scientists access to data that could play an essential role in preparing defences against the virus, such as developing vaccines.
A complete ban on the research could have similar repercussions. Scientific understanding of the bird flu virus, how it spreads and how it mutates, is essential to minimise the chances of another flu pandemic. The flu virus that swept across the world in 1918 killed up to 20 per cent of those infected, causing an estimated 50 million deaths.
An alternative strategy
The scientific community has had intense discussions over what to do with the papers over the past few months.
Initially the NSABB suggested a solution could lie in publishing redacted (edited) versions of the papers with some of the key scientific and technical data omitted.
Both journals to which the research was submitted have been exploring how they might do this while making full versions of the papers available to scientists who have been vetted to ensure they would use the data responsibly.
But on close examination, this option has presented difficulties. For example, much of the technical data in one of the papers has already been presented at a scientific conference so attempts to prevent its further dissemination may be ineffective.
Another significant objection raised at a meeting organised by the WHO in Geneva two weeks ago (16 February) was the difficulty of reaching an international consensus on the criteria for vetting scientists who request the full data.
Concerns in perspective
Following the WHO meeting Nature said in an editorial that the benefits of open publication outweighed the risks identified so far, and that in principle “the papers should ultimately be published in full”. [1]
Similarly the editor of Science said in a recent interview with the BBC that “our default position is that we have to publish in complete form”. [2]
A final decision is awaiting further discussion at the WHO. But this position is brave, and correct.
There are substantial public health benefits in as many scientists as possible having access to the data if they are to understand potential changes to the virus.
These outweigh the advantages — likely to be short-lived — of restricting access to prevent the data from falling into the wrong hands. And at present, the biosecurity concerns are “too general and hypothetical”, says Nature.
Furthermore, the political sensitivities of deciding who the ‘wrong hands’ are, and who should make this decision, risk heightening the international tensions that already exist over attempts to limit the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, most recently over Iran’s nuclear programme.
But two things are essential if the data are to be made more widely available. First, open publication must be accompanied by an effective monitoring system. This would look out for potential misuse of the data.
Second, the issue needs as wide a public debate as possible, actively promoted by both health officials and journalists to ensure it is adequately informed.
Developing countries such as Indonesia, which has the highest bird flu transmission rates and the most fatalities, have a particular interest in the outcome of this debate. They have more to gain from new techniques to prevent virus transmission, such as effective vaccines, than from restrictions on the publication of these data.
Concerns about biosecurity must be kept in perspective. They are certainly important, but should not cloud our judgement on the urgency of developing adequate protection against an evolved form of the virus, whether natural or man-made.
David Dickson
Editor, SciDev.Net

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PROF. ERLE FRAYNE ARGONZA WEBSITE: http://erleargonza.com

ARGONZA SOCIAL BLOGS & LINKS:
http://erleargonza.blogspot.com, https://unladtau.wordpress.com, http://www.facebook.com, http://www.newciv.org, http://sta.rtup.biz, http://magicalsecretgarden.socialparadox.com, http://en.netlog.com/erlefrayne, http://talangguro.blogfree.net, http://www.blogster.com/erleargonza, http://efdargon.multiply.com,
http://internationalpeaceandconflict.org, http://erleargonza.seekopia.com, http://lovingenergies.spruz.com, http://www.articlesforfree.net, http://www.facebook.com

DEVELOPMENT SITES:
http://www.adb.org, http://www.asean.org, http://www.bis.org, http://www.devex.com, http://www.eldis.org, http://www.fao.org, http://www.icc-cpi.int, http://www.imf.org, http://www.iom.int, http://www.scidev.net, http://www.un.org, http://www.undp.org, http://www.unescap.org, http://www.unesco.org, http://www.unhabitat.org, http://www.unhcr.org, http://www.unido.org, http://www.unis.unvienna.org, http://www.who.int, http://www.worldbank.org, http://www.wto.org

BIRDS’ FLU RETHOUGHT WITH SCIENTIFIC OPENNESS

April 12, 2012

BIRDS’ FLU RETHOUGHT WITH SCIENTIFIC OPENNESS

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Birds flu struck the world as a pandemic just a few years back, creating fright night panic in some key cities over incoming overseas visitors that are afflicted with the ailment. Indonesia is among those countries hit hard in terms of transmission of the birds flu, and so the Indonesian case could be examined to rethink the health problem at hand.

What makes the birds flu hazard truly alarming is that over 80% of those afflicted die of the disease. It now seems that, on hindsight, the lack of scientific openness had inflated the destructive reach and impact of the bird flu pandemic.

There is over-consciousness about intellectual property piracy of course, which accounts for the behavior of self-constraint among research scientists. How far can that wall of secrecy be loosened up to effect a cross-border clamp down of the bird flu virus?

Below is an interesting reportage about the subject.

[Philippines, 03 April 2012]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/health/bird-flu/editorials/tackling-bird-flu-effectively-needs-scientific-openness-1.html
Tackling bird flu effectively needs scientific openness
David Dickson
2 March 2012
Efforts to limit publication of controversial bird flu research could end up doing more harm than good.
Last week, a 12-year-old boy in Indonesia died after becoming infected with the H5N1 bird flu virus. His death brought the global death toll to 347 since the disease was first reported among humans in 2005.
At first sight the figure does not look too alarming compared to the many millions that die from other infectious diseases. And although the virus is usually fatal — up to 80 per cent of those infected die from it — the overall incidence of human infection remains relatively low.
This is because most people only get infected through contact with infected poultry. But what if the virus could spread between humans?
This spectre has now been raised by two teams of scientists, working at a medical centre in the Netherlands and the University of Wisconsin in the United States, respectively. Each team genetically altered the virus into a form that can pass between ferrets through the air — implying that a similar strain could evolve (or be created) that could spread between humans.
The consequences could be so disastrous that last year, a US body set up in 2005 to look at the potential biosecurity risks of laboratory-created organisms recommended that papers on the work submitted to the world’s two leading scientific journals, Science and Nature, should not be published in full.
The argument of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) was that the information could be used by terrorist groups or individuals to produce a powerful biological weapon that could spark a deadly epidemic if released into the human population.
Risks of restriction
There is a strong logic to this argument. Withholding the technical details of the steps required to produce a deadly virus would certainly make it considerably more difficult for anyone to copy the process.
And some have advocated going even further to curtail access to such information with calls for a ban on all research that could lead to new, potentially lethal viruses. Their argument is that the threat such viruses would pose if they escaped from the laboratory is so great that nothing justifies the risk of even carrying out research for them.
But both arguments have flaws. Those seeking publication of the information in heavily edited form risk denying scientists access to data that could play an essential role in preparing defences against the virus, such as developing vaccines.
A complete ban on the research could have similar repercussions. Scientific understanding of the bird flu virus, how it spreads and how it mutates, is essential to minimise the chances of another flu pandemic. The flu virus that swept across the world in 1918 killed up to 20 per cent of those infected, causing an estimated 50 million deaths.
An alternative strategy
The scientific community has had intense discussions over what to do with the papers over the past few months.
Initially the NSABB suggested a solution could lie in publishing redacted (edited) versions of the papers with some of the key scientific and technical data omitted.
Both journals to which the research was submitted have been exploring how they might do this while making full versions of the papers available to scientists who have been vetted to ensure they would use the data responsibly.
But on close examination, this option has presented difficulties. For example, much of the technical data in one of the papers has already been presented at a scientific conference so attempts to prevent its further dissemination may be ineffective.
Another significant objection raised at a meeting organised by the WHO in Geneva two weeks ago (16 February) was the difficulty of reaching an international consensus on the criteria for vetting scientists who request the full data.
Concerns in perspective
Following the WHO meeting Nature said in an editorial that the benefits of open publication outweighed the risks identified so far, and that in principle “the papers should ultimately be published in full”. [1]
Similarly the editor of Science said in a recent interview with the BBC that “our default position is that we have to publish in complete form”. [2]
A final decision is awaiting further discussion at the WHO. But this position is brave, and correct.
There are substantial public health benefits in as many scientists as possible having access to the data if they are to understand potential changes to the virus.
These outweigh the advantages — likely to be short-lived — of restricting access to prevent the data from falling into the wrong hands. And at present, the biosecurity concerns are “too general and hypothetical”, says Nature.
Furthermore, the political sensitivities of deciding who the ‘wrong hands’ are, and who should make this decision, risk heightening the international tensions that already exist over attempts to limit the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, most recently over Iran’s nuclear programme.
But two things are essential if the data are to be made more widely available. First, open publication must be accompanied by an effective monitoring system. This would look out for potential misuse of the data.
Second, the issue needs as wide a public debate as possible, actively promoted by both health officials and journalists to ensure it is adequately informed.
Developing countries such as Indonesia, which has the highest bird flu transmission rates and the most fatalities, have a particular interest in the outcome of this debate. They have more to gain from new techniques to prevent virus transmission, such as effective vaccines, than from restrictions on the publication of these data.
Concerns about biosecurity must be kept in perspective. They are certainly important, but should not cloud our judgement on the urgency of developing adequate protection against an evolved form of the virus, whether natural or man-made.
David Dickson
Editor, SciDev.Net

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PROF. ERLE FRAYNE ARGONZA WEBSITE: http://erleargonza.com

ARGONZA SOCIAL BLOGS & LINKS:
http://erleargonza.blogspot.com, https://unladtau.wordpress.com, http://www.facebook.com, http://www.newciv.org, http://sta.rtup.biz, http://magicalsecretgarden.socialparadox.com, http://en.netlog.com/erlefrayne, http://talangguro.blogfree.net, http://www.blogster.com/erleargonza, http://efdargon.multiply.com,
http://internationalpeaceandconflict.org, http://erleargonza.seekopia.com, http://lovingenergies.spruz.com, http://www.articlesforfree.net, http://www.facebook.com

DEVELOPMENT SITES:
http://www.adb.org, http://www.asean.org, http://www.bis.org, http://www.devex.com, http://www.eldis.org, http://www.fao.org, http://www.icc-cpi.int, http://www.imf.org, http://www.iom.int, http://www.scidev.net, http://www.un.org, http://www.undp.org, http://www.unescap.org, http://www.unesco.org, http://www.unhabitat.org, http://www.unhcr.org, http://www.unido.org, http://www.unis.unvienna.org, http://www.who.int, http://www.worldbank.org, http://www.wto.org

CLEANING UGANDA’S IMAGE WITH CLEAN DEVELOPMENT HUB ROLE

April 10, 2012

CLEANING UGANDA’S IMAGE WITH CLEAN DEVELOPMENT HUB ROLE

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Great good news is coming out of the African continent by the day, one them being the new role assigned to Uganda as clean development mechanism or CDM hub. I surely welcome this new development for Uganda, and wish no less for its immense success.

The target is to roll out the pioneering sectors over the next three (3) years that will exhibit the benefits of clean development. Belgium is bankrolling the research & development aspect. Already, a short list of industry sectors such as stove industry and hydropower were identified as key drivers of the CDM efforts.

Uganda’s image globally would surely change towards the better with the CDM hub role. The global community cannot forget those horrific times of Idi Amin tyranny era, when Uganda became an eyesore for Africa being a bloodbath country.

Below is the gladdening news about the new development in Uganda.

[Philippines, 02 April March 2012]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/climate-change-and-energy/news/uganda-to-become-clean-development-mechanism-hub.html
Uganda to become Clean Development Mechanism Hub
Esther Nakkazi
2 March 2012
[KAMPALA] Uganda is set to become a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Hub over the next three years, with financial assistance from Belgium.
The Belgian Development Agency is investing US$2.6 million in the scheme, which will be overseen by the designated national authority — the Climate Change Unit (CCU) at the Ugandan Ministry of Water and Environment.
Private companies can register to receive training in monitoring, validation, verification and how to negotiate carbon credit transactions under the CDM. These will be registered with the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat through the CCU.
Companies with the potential to earn carbon credits include many in the domestic sector: cooking stoves, domestic biogas and green charcoal — a household fuel produced from agricultural waste.
Other sectors with the potential to benefit include those involved in small-scale hydroelectricity, landfill gas, photovoltaics, solar-powered LED lighting, solar water heaters and water purification,as well as industrial activities in the sectors of cement, biodiesel, sugar and wastewater.
Traineeships will open for applications on 1 April 2012. Associates of the scheme will offer training in CDM basics, investment analysis and the mechanism’s legal aspects, according to Adriaan Tas, managing director of Carbon Africa Limited and an advisor to the project.
Ten projects are currently registered with the CDM, and the newly established Hub will work with them to help them sell Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs). These include Africa’s largest CDM renewable energy project, the Bujagali hydropower project, which is hosted by Uganda. More projects will be taken on by the Hub in the future.
Speaking at the CDM Hub launch in Kampala, Uganda, on 14 February, Tas said the scheme would add momentum to the CDM phenomenon in Uganda.
“A lot of projects get stuck without financing. They only remain at the registration level. The CDM enables us to support such projects through [to] trading and capacity building,” he said.
“We need to push this market so that it matures,” he said, adding that the programme has added benefits, including increased economic activity, job creation and technology transfer.
Bob Natifu, the CCU’s communications officer, said: “These projects not only modernise eligible sectors, but also contribute to global climate protection.”
Michael Zkalubo, meteorology commissioner at Uganda’s Water and Environment Ministry, said: “Capacity building will help us benefit from adaptation and mitigation.”
The Hub Scheme will be implemented by the CCU, working closely with international consultants from Camco International Limited and Carbon Africa Limited.
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PROF. ERLE FRAYNE ARGONZA WEBSITE: http://erleargonza.com

ARGONZA SOCIAL BLOGS & LINKS:
http://erleargonza.blogspot.com, https://unladtau.wordpress.com, http://www.facebook.com, http://www.newciv.org, http://sta.rtup.biz, http://magicalsecretgarden.socialparadox.com, http://en.netlog.com/erlefrayne, http://talangguro.blogfree.net, http://www.blogster.com/erleargonza, http://efdargon.multiply.com,
http://internationalpeaceandconflict.org, http://erleargonza.seekopia.com, http://lovingenergies.spruz.com, http://www.articlesforfree.net, http://www.facebook.com

DEVELOPMENT SITES:
http://www.adb.org, http://www.asean.org, http://www.bis.org, http://www.devex.com, http://www.eldis.org, http://www.fao.org, http://www.icc-cpi.int, http://www.imf.org, http://www.iom.int, http://www.scidev.net, http://www.un.org, http://www.undp.org, http://www.unescap.org, http://www.unesco.org, http://www.unhabitat.org, http://www.unhcr.org, http://www.unido.org, http://www.unis.unvienna.org, http://www.who.int, http://www.worldbank.org, http://www.wto.org